Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk

May 15 bat walk poster

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park‘s bat walks have become so popular that this year they will be holding two. The first will be held next Friday, 15th May, and the second later in the year on 11th September. An e-mail from the Friends gave the details:

Hang out with the bats
Shrewsbury Park 15th May 2015
Meet in the car park off Plum Lane at 8.00pm for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the park at sunset using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
– Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing
– Children must be accompanied by an adult
– Walk lasts about 1 ½ hours and torches are helpful
– Dogs must be kept on a lead
– If you have mobility issues, please contact us on fspdog@hotmail.com and we will help you to participate.  The trail is a mixture of paved path, gravel and grass.
If it rains, neither the bats nor us will be coming out!!

The Friends will be borrowing bat detectors for the evening from the local parks forum,  the Bat Conservation Trust and London Bat Group.

Biggles the giant Pipistrelle at Bat Fest at the Natural History Museum
Biggles the giant Pipistrelle at Bat Fest at the Natural History Museum

If you’re interested in bats then there will be lots of other chances to see them during the summer months. You can get really close to bats at the annual Bat Fest held at the Natural History Museum. This year it will be held over the August Bank Holiday weekend, 29th and 30th August from 12-5pm. One of the many highlights is Jenny Clark and her education bats, as the BCT website says:

Sussex Bat Hospital –  One of our most popular attractions!
Learn about the work of Jenny the bat carer a.k.a. ‘BatLady’ who will bring her bat lodgers in for the day. These bats have been previously injured but sadly cannot be released into the wild. However, they live a comfortable life with Jenny who caters to all of their batty needs.

Jenny, who was awarded the MBE in the 2015 New Years Honours List for her services to bat conservation, brings along examples of most of the UK bat species and shows them off to visitors.

There will also be a number of other bat walks in the local area during the coming months. Woodlands Farm and Hall Place haven’t published the dates for their bat walks yet, but Crossness Nature Reserve have. The Bexley Wildlife blog has the details:

Fri 14th Aug, 20:15 – 22:30
BAT WALK– A walk round Southmere Lake and Crossness Southern Marsh, south of Eastern Way, identifying bat species with the use of bat detectors. Daubenton’s bats will be putting on a show over the lake, and Pipistrelle bats – and hopefully other species – will be hunting over the marshes. Feel free to bring children along. Bring a torch if you have one and you might want to wear some insect repellent. Sorry, there are no refreshments provided for this event
PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT THIS DATE MAY NEED TO BE CHANGED. PLEASE BOOK ON IF INTERESTED IN ATTENDING AND I WILL UPDATE YOU IF THERE IS A DATE CHANGE – THANK YOU
Meet 20:15 at the Southmere Lake/ Lakeside Complex car park off Belvedere Road (SE2 9AQ)

Fri 11th Sept, 19:00 – 21:00
BAT WALK– A nocturnal walk around the nature reserve north of Eastern Way after sunset, identifying bat species with the use of bat detectors. Hopefully we’ll see some other nocturnal species too. Bring a torch if you have one, and you might wish to wear some insect repellent.

Book for these by contacting Karen Sutton, the Biodiversity Team Manager at Thames Water Crossness Nature Reserve by phone on 07747 643958 or Email: Karen.sutton@thameswater.co.uk.

If you can’t wait to see some bats here is a video of a pipistrelle bat in the hand. Remember though, if you do find a bat you shouldn’t handle it, but follow the BCT guidelines for containing it and contact the Bat Helpline on 0345 1300 228 or email enquiries@bats.org.uk.

Community Spring Cleaning

Shrewsbury Park
Shrewsbury Park

Local community groups from Shrewsbury Park, Mayplace Lane and Cantwell Road will each be getting together over this weekend to spruce up their areas, then the following weekend the Friends of Eaglesfield Park will be starting their regular maintenance sessions at the lilly pond (about which more in a later post ). Plus the Friends of the Pet Cemetery Charlton are holding gardening sessions on the second Sunday of each month at the cemetery. All of these groups would welcome volunteers to help.

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are meeting on Saturday. Kathy from the Friends wrote with details:

We will be holding a clearing session on Saturday 21st March, from 11am – 12 noon. We will be taking ivy off trees and picking up litter.
If you can spare an hour, please meet at the Garland Road entrance to Dothill at 11am. You will need to wear stout gloves and sensible shoes. Please bring your own secateurs/loppers.
We look forward to seeing you there.

On Sunday morning between 10:30-12:00 the Mayplace Lane group will be planting some fruit hedging bought with money donated by local residents and also building bug houses and litter picking. Any materials suitable for bug houses would be appreciated, for example: bricks, air bricks, clay pots, tiles and wood. Nicola has arranged for Greenwich Council to provide litter pickers and rubbish bags, and to pick up the rubbish on Monday morning.

Then on Sunday afternoon the Cantwell Road residents will be meeting for a community spring clean. Geoff wrote:

Now that Spring is here Ivanhoe Norona from Maple Court has suggested that anyone interested  in a “Community Spring Clean” of various areas including the Cantwell Triangle and the wooded area between Eglinton Hill and Cantwell meet at 2pm on Sunday 22nd March at the Cantwell Triangle (opposite junction of Brent and Cantwell). He says, “We might even be able to invite our local councillors and see if the council would like to be involved.”

So this weekend sees three good opportunities to meet neighbours and help improve the places we live in.

Mayplace Lane
Mayplace Lane

Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk

Shrewsbury Park bat walk poster 2014

Bats have become very popular, perhaps surprisingly given their past unfortunate associations with blood-sucking vampires. Bat walks are consistently fully booked up: both Woodlands Farm and Hall Place had no spare spaces on nightime strolls with bat detectors  in the last couple of weeks. And in July the Bat Conservation Trust’s  Bat Fest weekend at the Natural History Museum had its busiest year yet with nearly 3000 visitors.

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park‘s bat walks have always been very well attended. This year’s will be held next Friday, 5th September. An e-mail from the Friends gave the details:

We will be providing a bat walk on Friday 5th September.  If you would like to attend, please meet in the car park at 7.30pm for an introduction to bats by Kris and Les, and a demonstration on how to use the bat detectors.  The walk will last about an hour and a half.
– please wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing
– children must be accompanied by an adult
– dogs must be kept on a lead
– please bring a torch.
If you have mobility issues, please contact us so we can help you to participate.  The trail is a mixture of paved path, gravel and grass.
If it rains, neither the bats nor us will be coming out!!

Biggles the giant Pipistrelle at Bat Fest at the Natural History Museum
Biggles the giant Pipistrelle at Bat Fest at the Natural History Museum

Bats’ popularity isn’t confined to the UK. This Saturday is the 18th International Bat Night, an event which started in 1997 and is marked by batty events in more than 30 countries all over the world. The Bat Conservation Trust in the UK is holding a Creative Competition for International Bat Night:

To enter the competition all you have to do is create something original and inspiring that represents how you celebrated International Bat Night. Your entry could be a drawing or painting of a bat you saw whilst on a bat walk, a picture of bat shaped cookies you baked, or a poem or short story inspired by your activities.

The closing date for entries is next Friday 5th September.

Why the increased interest in bats and bat walks? Part of the reason, I think, is that bat detectors have become less expensive, and they are also available for loan for bat walks from the BCT, London Bat Group and park groups so it’s easier to find bats. Also, though, they are such fascinating creatures. They can detect and then capture insects such as midges on the wing using their echolocation – they shout continually as they fly around and use the echoes from tiny insects to “see” where their prey is. They have wonderful wings, constructed from layers of skins over elongated finger bones, hence the name of their order, chiroptera, meaning “hand-wing”.  This gives them great agility and control in flight, as you can see in the amazing film footage included below.

 

Shooters Hill Park Fêtes

Friends of Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival leaflet

Next weekend in Shooters Hill is going to be busy, with both the Friends of Shrewsbury Park and the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme holding their summer fêtes, as well as the opening of Severndroog Castle and a London Bubble play, Ishbel and I, at Castle Woods.

The Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival is on Saturday, 19th July, starting at 1.00pm. As well as their highly entertaining dog show, complete with competitions for agility, speed and catching biscuits, the Hawk and Hood School of Falconry will be there and there will be opportunities to learn how to safely observe the sun and to help judge the Friends’ photographic competition. There is still just about time to enter the competition, the deadline for entries is tomorrow, 16th July. The Friends web site has details of how to enter:

We invite you to capture images of the Park over the next few months. They can be dramatic, seasonal, humorous, exciting, tranquil, close ups or panoramic– with or without people and wildlife, colour or black and white.
The twelve most interesting photos will be chosen to be included in our 2015 calendar.
Please send your photos to fspdog@hotmail.com with ‘photo comp’ as the subject. It would be very helpful if you also produce a suitable print if possible. Please include your name and a caption, and how best to be in touch with you.

 

Agility competition at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Agility competition at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

 

EPNWS Community fete Poster

The following day, Sunday 20th July, the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme will be holding their Community Fête, which will be opened by the new leader of Greenwich Council and former local councillor Denise Hyland at 12.00 noon. The EPNWS Summer Newsletter described the afternoon’s events:

The Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme (EPNWS) invites you and your family to an afternoon of fun on Sunday 20 July from 12noon to 4pm in Eaglesfield Park. Take part in the activities, wander around the stands and stalls and meet the people that help make our community great. This is the seventh year that the fete has been held to help promote the benefits of Neighbourhood Watch and foster community spirit. The fete will be opened by special guests, including the winner of the poster competition from Christ Church Primary School.
Some of the activities include a hula hoop demonstration, mini tennis, children’s story telling, face painting and a Punch and Judy show. The Shooters Hill Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team is pulling out all the stops for some fun and exciting activities, with the Greenwich Met Police teams on hand and music from the Police Cadets Drum Corp. You can buy home-made cakes and refreshments, and take part in our raffle to win a pair of tickets to see Disney on Ice in The Royal Borough of Greenwich hospitality box at the 02 on Christmas Eve. The day of fun finishes at the Shooters Hill Lawn Tennis Club which welcomes all the community to check out their new club facilities, with a BBQ and refreshments at the club house from 4pm to 7pm.

There will also be a chance to try some pond dipping in the Lilly Pond hosted by the Friends of Eaglesfield Park.

Let’s hope the good weather continues through the weekend. Last year the opening time for the EPNWS Community Fête was marked by torrential rain!

Stalls at Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Community Fête
Stalls at Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Community Fête

Shrewsbury Park bird walk

Shrewsbury Park Bird Walk poster

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park will be hosting a bird walk tomorrow, Tuesday 3rd June, starting at 10.30am down at the Garland Road gate into the park. The walk will be led by Park Ranger John Beckham and will check out the bird boxes that were erected last year with help from pupils at Timbercroft School, as well as walking around the old allotment area.

The walk will go ahead whatever the weather, so come prepared and wear sturdy shoes.

Putting up bird boxes in Shrewsbury Park
Putting up bird boxes in Shrewsbury Park
Buttercup meadow at Shrewsbury Park
Buttercup meadow at Shrewsbury Park

 

Shrewsbury Park 2014 Programme

 

Shrewsbury Park near Rowton Road
Shrewsbury Park

 

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park have been very busy recently. Not only have they revamped their web site and joined twitter (@Friendsspark) but also they have organised a programme of events for the rest of the year. Plus they are holding a photography competition, with the winning pictures to go in their 2015 calendar.

It all starts on Saturday when the Friends are meeting to tidy up the old allotment area on Dot Hill. Their e-mail gave the details:

Will you be able to help us cut down the brambles in the old allotment this Saturday, 26 April,  from 12 noon – 1pm?
If you can spare the hour, please bring secateurs and stout gloves, those brambles are mean!
We will meet at the junction of the Green Chain walk with Dothill. If you are coming via the car park, just walk down the path to the bottom.

The Friends programme for 2014 includes some old favourites: the superb Summer Festival is on the 19th July, the same weekend as the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme‘s seventh annual Community Fete. I hear that the Festival will again include the excellent Dog Show, one of the highlights of previous festivals. The popular bat walk will be in September this year, on Friday 5th. The Friends are also holding a “Tree event” for 20 children and their parents on  Monday 26 May at 11am. They will lead the children in the woods, help them to make clay faces and journey sticks. You will need to book for this event – more information will be put on the Friends web site soon. Here is this year’s full programme:

Saturday 26 April, 12 noon – 1pm:  Park tidy at old allotments
Monday 26 May, 11am:  Children’s Tree Event
Tuesday 3 June, 10.30am:   Bird walk
Saturday 19 July, 1 – 4pm:    Summer Festival
Sunday 10 Aug, 12 noon – 1pm:  Clean up day
Friday 5 September, 7.15pm:   Bat walk.

 Kris e-mailed details of the photography competition:

We invite you to capture images of the Park over the next few months. They can be dramatic, seasonal, humorous, exciting, tranquil, close ups or panoramic– with or without people and wildlife, colour or black and white.
The twelve most interesting photos will be chosen to be included in our 2015 calendar.
Please send your photos to fspdog@hotmail.com with ‘photo comp’ as the subject. It would be very helpful if you also produce a suitable print if possible. Please include your name and a caption, and how best to be in touch with you.
Judging will be done at  our Summer Festival on 19 July by all who attend.
We hope to organise an exhibition in Shrewsbury House in the autumn for all entries and also display a gallery on the website fspark.org.uk
Be creative and have fun!

Must take my camera for a walk in the park again!

Agility competition at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Agility competition at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival

Shrewsbury Park Celebration

Autumn Leaves in Shrewsbury Park
Autumn Leaves in Shrewsbury Park

On the 29th November the Friends of Shrewsbury Park will be celebrating completion of their park improvement project, which included resurfacing the flood-prone part of the Dothill path, and we’re all invited to go along and see the official opening by the  Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Kathy from the Friends wrote with details:

Please come and help us celebrate the new and improved Dothill/Garland Road entrance to Shrewsbury Park at 10am on Friday, 29 November 2013.
The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich will formally inaugurate the new entrance, cutting the ribbon at 10am. We will then walk along the improved path, explaining what has been achieved. There will be a celebratory cake and a hot drink at the end of the short walk.
Whilst involved in this project, we have worked to improve the safety of the park by getting a grant to erect a kissing gate at the Garland Road entrance to Dothill. This will prevent motorcycles from accessing the park. The project has also improved drainage along the Dothill path – in past years it has sometimes been impossible to navigate Dothill because of the huge puddle across it. We have planted donated plants to improve the look of the entrance. We also have a fine new inscribed oak noticeboard, where we can display information on flora and fauna.
So please come and join us at the event. It will also be an opportunity to buy your Friends of Shrewsbury Park calendar (£5 – all proceeds to the drinking water fountain fund).
We look forward to seeing you on the 29 November.

The Friends calendar, shown below, has proven very popular and has had to be reprinted because the first print-run sold out. The pictures in the calendar were contributed by seven different local photographers or artists and all proceeds will go to the Park drinking fountain fund. If you can’t make it on the 29th you can also get a calendar by e-mailing the Friends at fspdog@hotmail.com.

Shrewsbury Park 2014 Calendar
Friends of Shrewsbury Park 2014 Calendar
Autumn colours in Shrewsbury Park
Autumn colours in Shrewsbury Park

Friends of Shrewsbury Park AGM on Saturday

New path on Dot Hill, Shrewsbury Park
New path on Dot Hill

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding their Annual General Meeting this Saturday, 12th October starting at 11.00am. Kathy from the Friends wrote with details:

We will be holding our Annual General Meeting on Saturday 12 October 2013, at 11am.  We will meet at the bottom of the path that leads down from the car park, and joins Dothill.  If you are unsure where this is, please get in touch.

We will start with the business side (reports, elections), and then go on to finish the path through the old Nature Reserve – we hope you will be able to help us with this. If you are able/willing to do so,  then please bring along secateurs, loppers and stout gloves.  There will be a hot drink and biscuits for volunteers.

We welcome members joining the Management Committee, so if you have some spare time and would like to join the small, friendly team, then please get in touch with me and I will give you more information.

This will also be an opportunity to admire some of the Friends’ achievements over recent months, such as the new drainage system and re-surfaced path on Dot Hill pictured above. This part of the Dothill path was susceptible to flooding, as can be seen in the picture with an earlier post about the improvements, so the changes will make a big difference. Further down the path the Friends have erected a new set of wheel-chair friendly gates and a hand-carved notice board at the Garland Road entrance to the park.

New notice board at Garland Road entrance to Shrewsbury Park
New notice board at Garland Road entrance to Shrewsbury Park

If you are skilled in web site maintenance you may be able to help the Friends with their excellent website. They are looking for a volunteer to take over the technical aspects of updating their site as the web designer who has looked after it for the last five years has had to step down due to work commitments. Potential web masters can contact Kathy by e-mail on fspdog@hotmail.com or come along and see her at the AGM.

The Friends are currently raising funds for a water fountain for the park, and have produced a 2014 Calendar which will be sold to help raise money. It includes art work by local children and photographs showing the park at different times of the year. The wintry January photograph is included below. The calendar costs £5.00 and will be available at the AGM or via the Friends.

Sledging in Shrewsbury Park
The January Picture in the Friends of Shrewsbury Park 2014 Calendar

Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival 2013

Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival 2013 Flyer

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding their Summer Festival this Saturday, 8th June, starting at One O’Clock. Previous festivals have been great fun, especially the very popular amd well-attended Dog Show Extravaganza. Dogs, and their owners, compete to find the dogs with the best of  characteristics such as obedience, beauty and speed.

There are some great pictures of the last Summer Festival on the Friends’ Gallery pages.

P.S. I’ve put some of my photos of the festival on Flickr here, and I’d recommend Stu Mayhew’s set too.

Shrewsbury Park
Shrewsbury Park
Shrewsbury Park
Shrewsbury Park

Shrewsbury Park Bat Walk

Shrewsbury Park Bat walk poster 2013

Bats are just amazing creatures; flying mammals that are superbly adapted to their nocturnal lifestyle. And much maligned – they are not vampiric blood-suckers, swooping down to latch onto a jugular vein. Admittedly a few Central and South American bats do feed on the blood of livestock such as pigs and cattle, but they lap up the blood coming from the cut they make in their prey’s vein rather than sucking it out. Even this has a good side: a drug has been developed from the enzyme in the bats’ saliva that prevents the blood clotting, which may, one day soon, be used to treat people who have had a stroke. A scientist with a sense of humour has called the drug Draculin.

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park are bat lovers. Their bat walk has become an annual event, and the next one is on Friday 17th May, meeting at 8.00pm at the car park off Plum Lane. Last year’s walk took place on one of the few dry spring days, and attendees were rewarded with detection and sightings of a number of hunting pipistrelles. Hopefully the long, cold winter hasn’t had too much effect on the bats and this year’s walk will be similarly successful. The walk will pass by the bat boxes the Friends constructed and, with council assistance, attached to trees in the park last year. Sometimes it is a year or two before boxes are inhabited, and bats move between different roost sites at different times of the year, so it will be interesting to see on Friday if the park boxes have any occupants.

Putting up bat boxes in Shrewsbury Park
Putting up bat boxes in Shrewsbury Park

Bats are a priority species in the Royal Borough of Greenwich Biodiversity Action Plan, which says in the species action plan for bats:

Many bat species roost in loft spaces in houses and this sometimes causes people concern, as there are many misconceptions about bats:
• Bats are not rodents, and do not gnaw at wood, wires or insulation.
• All British bats consume insects and therefore their droppings are dry and crumbly, they do not putrefy like mouse droppings.
• Bats do not nest and therefore do not bring bedding material or insect prey into roost spaces.
• Bats are clean, and spend many hours grooming.
• No species of British bat feed on blood.

Aims for Greenwich:
• To protect and enhance the present population through increasing the provision of roost sites in Greenwich.
• To protect and enhance linear landscape features and wildlife corridors for bats to commute between roost and feeding sites.
• To increase the abundance of insect prey available for bats.

Pair of Pipistrelles under a thumb
Pair of Pipistrelles under a thumb

A good way to find our more about bats is to go along to the Bat Fest organised by the Bat Conservation trust and the Natural History Museum, which this year runs over the weekend of 1st and 2nd June at the museum in South Kensington. Volunteers from the London Bat Group will be on some of the stands. Last year it included various batty activities for children,  some more detailed technical stuff about echolocation and a series of Nature Live talks. Also there was the marvellous Jenny Clark, a bat carer who has converted part of her home in Forest Row, Sussex into a bat hospital. She brought along some of the rescue bats that couldn’t be released back into the wild because, maybe, they were unable to fly or had been hand-reared from babies. It was a rare chance to get close to live bats, and to learn how cute and fragile they are, and that they purr when stroked.

If you share my fascination with batty matters, take a look at these Youtube videos of bats in action. First, on  BBC’s Top Bat, a sequence showing Daubenton’s Bats hunting at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire.

I just love this video of the Long Eared Bat silently stalking moths using its hypersensitive hearing.